Coaching Philosophy 101: Crafting Your Unique Approach

Aliyah Cloete August 22, 2023

Imagine for a moment: What would basketball be without Phil Jackson's Zen approach? Or business without Steve Jobs' focus on innovation? Behind every great coach, from life and business to fitness and health, stands a robust and unique "coaching philosophy."

This isn't just a fancy term—it's the backbone of your coaching approach. It defines how you interact, guide, and make a meaningful impact on your client's journey. And whether you're a seasoned coach or just starting, crafting this philosophy can be a transformative experience.

In this deep dive, we'll explore what a coaching philosophy truly is, its pivotal role across diverse coaching fields, and, more importantly, the nitty-gritty of creating one that truly mirrors your core beliefs and values.

Curious about how to identify your foundational principles or eager to learn why having a philosophy is so crucial? You're in the right place. Let's get started!

Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide:

  1. What is a Coaching Philosophy?
    Dive in as we break down the essence of a coaching philosophy, exploring its role in guiding coaches and sprinkling in examples from various fields.

  2. Why is Having a Philosophy Important?
    Ever wondered why all top coaches swear by their philosophies? Here, we'll uncover the magic behind it all and how it can be a game-changer for your practice.

  3. How Do I Identify My Core Principles as a Coach?
    Get ready for some soul-searching! In this section, we'll guide you through deep reflection to unearth the values and beliefs that make you the coach you are.

  4. How Do I Create My Own Coaching Philosophy?
    Roll up your sleeves! We're taking a step-by-step journey to craft a coaching philosophy that's authentically you, complete with tips, examples, and some inspirational sprinkles.

  5. Putting Philosophy into Practice
    Here's where the rubber meets the road! Discover how to effectively communicate and implement your philosophy with diverse clients.

  6. Evaluating and Fine-Tuning Your Approach
    Coaching is an evolving art. Dive into tools and techniques to measure your philosophy's impact and keep it fresh and relevant.

What is a Coaching Philosophy?

When we utter the words "coaching philosophy," it may initially sound like some lofty term reserved for academia or the pages of a scholarly journal. But it's much more relatable to every coach's practice. So, let's break it down.

coaching philosophy is a personal doctrine or a set of beliefs and values guiding your coaching strategies, decisions, and actions. Think of it as your coaching compass—a tool that points you in the right direction, ensuring every step you take aligns with your core values.

Its influence is pervasive and powerful. Let's explore a few examples of how a coaching philosophy might be articulated:

  • A life coach might prioritize empowering clients to find their own answers, believing in the mantra, "Guide, don't prescribe."

  • A business coach might be anchored in the philosophy of "innovative disruption," constantly pushing their clients to break the mold and redefine industries.

  • A fitness coach could swear by the "holistic wellness" philosophy, emphasizing mind, body, and soul interconnection in achieving health goals.

These examples show that your coaching philosophy is more than just a statement—it's the heartbeat of your practice. It's what differentiates you, making your coaching approach unique and genuine while assisting others on their personal or professional journey.

Why is Having a Philosophy Important?

Let's chat about why having a coaching philosophy is a game-changer. The coaching scene is bursting with new strategies and flashy tools, but your philosophy? That's your anchor. It's what helps you make decisions that feel "right," that feels like... well, you.

And another perk: it's a trust booster for your clients. It's like magic when they get where you're coming from and vibe with your core beliefs. They see the consistent beats in your rhythm, giving them a sense of security. This understanding doesn't just make your bond rock solid but can also lead to some seriously awesome outcomes. After all, isn't it smoother sailing when everyone's on the same page?

And if you need a little philosophy-inspo, here's a quote by the legendary coach John Wooden:

"Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable."

In essence, a coaching philosophy provides that peace of mind—for you and your clients.

How Do I Identify My Core Principles as a Coach?

Alright, let's dive deeper, my coaching friends! Recognizing your core principles is like discovering the secret ingredients in your grandma's legendary pie—it's the stuff that makes everything click.

But, like any recipe worth its salt, it's unique to you. So, how do you figure out your unique mix?

1. Dive into Self-Reflection

Before sharing your wisdom with others, spend some quality time with yourself. Maybe it's with a journal in a quiet room or during a long, introspective walk. The point is to connect with your inner thoughts. Ask yourself:

  • What are the values I refuse to compromise on?

  • What moments in my coaching journey made me the proudest? Why?

  • Which experiences have shaped my coaching ethos the most?

  • What motivates me daily in my coaching journey?

  • In which moments have I felt the most connected to a client? Why?

  • Are there events or experiences that have significantly changed how I coach?

  • How do I handle challenges and setbacks in my coaching career?

  • What do I hope clients remember about our sessions years down the line?

2. Deep-Dive Questions

Sometimes you need to play detective with yourself to get to the heart of your beliefs. Consider these prompts:

  • What do I believe is the true essence of coaching?

  • How do I define success, both for myself and my clients?

  • What are the lessons I want every client to walk away with?

  • Beyond tangible results, what intangible values do I offer?

  • How do I want to influence the coaching world or leave a mark?

  • What makes my coaching style different, and why do I think that is?

  • What are my non-negotiables when it comes to coaching practices?

  • How do I envision the perfect coaching session?

3. Borrowing Wisdom

Sometimes, understanding our principles comes easier when we see them in action with others. Take Brené Brown, a researcher and speaker who emphasizes the power of vulnerability, courage, and empathy in her coaching approach.

Then there's the co-founder of Nike and a renowned track and field coach, Bill Bowerman, who believed in the individual's potential. His coaching was based on the philosophy that if you have a body, you are an athlete. He was an advocate for personal growth through sports and competition.

So, what's your unique blend? Identifying your core principles isn't just a one-time exercise. It's a continuous journey of understanding and evolution. As you grow, refine, and reshape, your coaching essence becomes clearer and stronger. Happy discovering!

How Do I Create My Own Coaching Philosophy?

Finding your unique coaching philosophy isn't just about understanding your values—it's about shaping a blueprint to guide your practice. So, how do we go about crafting this masterpiece? Let's dive in!

1. Start With Introspection:

Begin with self-awareness. Dive deep into your beliefs, experiences, and motivations. Ask yourself:

  • What drives me as a coach?

  • How do my experiences shape my approach?

  • What aspects of coaching resonate most with me?

  • Which client breakthroughs have been most fulfilling, and why?

  • How do I handle uncertainty or challenges in my coaching practice?

Tip: Keep a journal specifically for this journey. Documenting your thoughts can lead to profound realizations.

Quote: "Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." - Aristotle

2. Understand Your ‘Why’:

This is the core of your philosophy. Reflect on why you chose this profession and what you hope to achieve.

Questions for Reflection:

  • Why did I become a coach, and how does that influence my day-to-day interactions?

  • What legacy do I wish to leave in the coaching world?

  • What transformations am I aiming for in my clients' lives?

  • How does coaching align with my life's broader purpose?

  • What do I believe is the most powerful aspect of coaching?

Tip: Think beyond surface-level answers. The deeper you go, the clearer your 'why' becomes.

3. Blend Personal Values with Professional Ethics:

Your philosophy should resonate with your values, but always ensure it aligns with professional standards.


  • If transparency is key for you, ensure it doesn't compromise client confidentiality.

  • If you value directness, balance it with empathy to ensure clients feel supported.

  • If continuous learning is a cornerstone, ensure your methods are evidence-based.

  • If you prioritize empowerment, ensure you're not overshadowing a client's autonomy.

Quote: "Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching." - C.S. Lewis

4. Constantly Evolve and Learn:

A static philosophy is a stagnant one. As you grow, your philosophy should adapt. Attend workshops, read, and engage with peers.

Questions for Reflection:

  • How have recent learnings influenced shifts in my coaching style?

  • What recent feedback or experience challenged my existing philosophy, and how did I respond?

  • In what areas do I feel least confident as a coach, and how can I seek knowledge or training in those areas?

  • Which thought leaders or coaching methodologies have I recently explored, and how do they align or contrast with my current philosophy?

  • How often am I stepping out of my comfort zone in my coaching practice, and what new strategies or techniques am I considering?

Tip: Feedback is golden. Regularly ask clients for their input to refine your approach.

5. Document and Revisit:

Once you've shaped your coaching philosophy, write it down. But remember, it's a living document. Regularly revisit and adjust as you evolve.


  • Think of your philosophy as a 'mission statement' for your coaching journey. Display it where you can see it daily.

  • Schedule biannual reviews to ensure it remains relevant.

  • Share it with trusted peers for fresh perspectives.

  • Visual reminders can be motivating. Consider creating a visual representation or mood board.

6. Balance Theory with Practice:

Your philosophy isn't just words—it's action. Regularly test its practicality in real-life scenarios.


  • If your philosophy emphasizes empowerment, craft sessions where clients lead.

  • If you focus on holistic well-being, cover both mental and physical aspects.

  • If you believe in pushing boundaries, ensure you provide a safe space for clients to stretch.

  • If you value vulnerability, share appropriate personal experiences to build trust.

Quote: "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." - Walt Disney

7. Seek Mentorship:

Engaging with seasoned coaches can provide invaluable insights into refining your philosophy.


  • Don't just seek feedback; actively apply it. This iterative process will only strengthen your coaching foundation.

  • Regularly attend coaching seminars or webinars.

  • Engage in coaching peer groups for shared wisdom.

  • Consider hiring a mentor/coach to refine your skills.

  • Practice active listening when engaging with mentors; sometimes, the unsaid holds deep insights.

Remember, crafting your coaching philosophy is a continuous journey of discovery. It's a dance between who you are, who you're becoming, and the unique impact you want to leave in your clients' lives.

As Rumi beautifully said, "Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray."

Putting Philosophy into Practice

A coaching philosophy isn't just a beautiful composition of words—it's the heart and soul of your practice. But how do we breathe life into these words and make them resonate in everyday interactions with clients? Let's break it down.

1. Transparent Communication:

Always initiate your coaching relationship with clarity. Take a moment in your initial sessions to outline your coaching philosophy so clients know what to expect. This sets the stage for trust and openness.

Example: Marie Forleo regularly emphasizes her belief that "everything is figureoutable" in her client sessions, setting a tone of resilience and possibility.

2. Adapt and Align:

Every client is unique, with diverse backgrounds and needs. It's vital to mold your philosophy to respect and cater to these nuances. Listen actively, acknowledge their perspectives, and adjust your coaching techniques while staying true to your core beliefs.

Tip: Use a pre-coaching questionnaire to understand your client's goals and values. This can provide insights into how to tailor your approach effectively.

3. Showcase Through Actions, Not Just Words:

Your philosophy should be evident in your actions and coaching style, not just what you say.

Real-Life Example: Jillian Michaels, the fitness coach, integrates her holistic wellness philosophy in her training sessions by ensuring exercises address both physical strength and mental resilience.

4. Feedback Loop:

Post-session reflections are invaluable. Ask your clients how they felt about the session, the techniques used, and how closely they felt it aligned with the philosophy shared. This feedback helps in refining and staying authentic.

Tip: A simple feedback form or a casual chat after sessions can do wonders in gauging alignment.

5. Stay Updated:

The world and its dynamics are ever-evolving. So, while your core philosophy might remain unchanged, the techniques and tools you employ should be updated. Regularly check if your strategies are still relevant to your clients and the broader coaching landscape.

Example: Brené Brown's focus on vulnerability remains constant, but she continually explores fresh ways to communicate and embody this principle based on the current societal context.

Remember, a coaching philosophy is both an anchor and a compass. It provides stability while also guiding adaptability. As coaches, our goal isn't just to recite our philosophy but to live it out loud, ensuring it echoes in every handshake, every word, and every transformative session.

Evaluating and Fine-Tuning Your Approach

So, you've got a coaching philosophy in place, but how do you know it's working? Just like anything else, it's essential to check in regularly, see what's working, and adjust as needed. Let's dive into how you can do that.

1. Ask Your Clients:

The simplest way? Just ask! After sessions or every once in a while, chat with your clients. See how they feel about your approach and if it's helping them. You can also use online survey tools like Google Forms to gather feedback.

2. Set and Check Goals:

Together with your client, set clear goals. As time passes, see how close you are to reaching them. If you're on track, great! If not, it might be time to revisit your methods.

3. Check in With Yourself:

Take a few moments every week to think about your sessions. Are clients having "aha!" moments? Are there challenges you didn't expect? Write down your thoughts; it can help!

4. Talk to Other Coaches:

Connect with fellow coaches. Share stories (without giving away any private info, of course) and get advice. Local coaching groups can help you connect.

5. Make Changes as Needed:

With all this info in hand, tweak your coaching style when needed. Your philosophy might stay the same, but your use of it can and should evolve. Remember, the goal isn't just to have a coaching philosophy but one that genuinely helps and resonates with your clients. Stay flexible, stay curious, and keep striving to be the best coach you can be.

Wrapping It Up

Your coaching philosophy isn't just a string of words; it's the heartbeat of your practice. It sets you apart, guiding your interactions, decisions, and client relationships. Remember that your philosophy is both your anchor and your compass. It keeps you grounded and points you in the right direction.

Every coach's journey is unique, filled with insights, challenges, and transformational moments. Regularly revisiting and refining your philosophy ensures that you're always aligned with your core beliefs, adaptable to the diverse needs of your clients, and effective in facilitating real change.

Now, as you embark on this introspective journey, don't forget to equip yourself with the right tools. Clarityflow offers a seamless platform tailored for coaches like you. Dive in, harness its power, and let your coaching philosophy shine brighter than ever.

Ready to elevate your coaching journey? Experience the future of coaching with Clarityflow today.

About Aliyah Cloete

Writer and marketer helping coaches grow their businesses and see client success.

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